Interview: women’s entrepreneurship in Africa (Tunisia)


During the Women in Africa Summit, businesswomen and CSR directors from several Orange entities come together to share their views on the role of digital in the development of their respective countries and on the different initiatives the Group has set up to support women and innovation.

Interview with Awatef Mosbeh, founder of the start-up Toufoula Kids and Asma Ennaifer, Head of External Relations and CSR at Orange Tunisia.

“A female entrepreneur has a social impact: she shows the next generation that everything is possible”

How can digital technology contribute to Tunisia’s development?

Asma Ennaifer: Digital is an essential accelerator for the country’s development. We’re particularly focused on digital inclusion, the employability of young people as well as promoting entrepreneurship. Orange opened its first coding school in Tunisia along with the first Orange Developer Centre in Africa, which is a technology incubator opened in 2011. In 2019, we inaugurated the Orange Digital Centre, which brings together several programmes to support young people and entrepreneurs in one place, including the Orange Fab accelerator, the coding school, the Solidarity FabLab and the Orange Digital Ventures investment fund.

Awatef Mosbeh: Digital is transforming learning methods. There’s a real movement towards digital education, especially in the private sector. Today there’s a need for high quality and fun educational content. That’s what we’re trying to achieve with Toufoula Kids.

Tell us about your start-up and how it’s taking off

A. M.: After 15 years as a mother and illustrator of children’s books, I wanted to combine the worlds of books and digital technology. Along with my husband I designed a magazine and mobile app for kids between 4 and 12 years old. We’ve developed augmented reality games with an educational, environmental and social purpose. This is a first in Tunisia and the Arab world.

A. E.: Toufoula Kids won the 2016 Orange Social Venture Prize in Tunisia, which recognises the country’s most innovative social enterprise projects. This was the start of a fantastic journey – forming a close relationship and sustainable partnership to ensure the start-up’s ongoing success. A contract has been signed with the Orange Foundation to produce and distribute digital content across the Group’s Digital School’s platform. We’re continuing to support Toufoula Kids to improve the application and develop networking and business development.

What challenges do businesswomen face in Tunisia?

A. E.: They face difficulties in finding their place in society and get their project underway, especially in the tech sector. Programmes such as Digital Centres have been set up to help them start out and we also help women artisans in rural areas to promote their products and increase their income.

A. M.: This is a challenge because there are simply more barriers for women than men, especially when it comes to caring for children and family. But we have to try and change social conventions as a female entrepreneur has a social impact: she shows the next generation that everything is possible.

Women in Africa 2019, what does the summit mean to you?

A. M.: Meeting other African businesswomen and the opportunity to discuss experiences, share advice, open up possibilities together… it’s also an opportunity to network and find new partners!

A. E.: The opportunity to share experiences on women’s entrepreneurship while highlighting start-ups to help them gain visibility and enter new markets.

Find out 3 other interviews: women’s entrepreneurship in Africa:

Cameroon

Discussion between Arielle Kitio, founder of the start-up Caysti , and Vivianne Ewongo, Head of Internal Communication and CSR at Orange Cameroon.

Senegal

Discussion between Seynabou Thiam, founder of the start-up Yaay and Rokhaya Solange Ndir, Head of Digital Ecosystem Relations at Orange Senegal.

Marocco

Meryem Bennis, founder of Marketface and Nadia Mrabi, CSR expert at Orange Morocco, share their views.